A homeowner in northwest Omaha worries about a potential danger which is undermining the excitement of buying a new house. The builder has gone under so she's desperately trying to find help elsewhere.
Every time she leaves home near 91st & Weber, Lynn Reese questions whether she will make it to the street. “I'm worried that the driveway is just going to collapse right underneath me.”
A sink hole is growing in her front yard and it undermines the 16-foot wide driveway.
Using a broom, we can see that the sink hole goes clear under the driveway.
The builder -- Hearthstone Homes -- is in bankruptcy but the year-old house still has a warranty sold through another company. Lynn Reese was told there's a gap in coverage. “Driveways are basically excluded.”
The Hearthstone bankruptcy trustee tells Fact Finders there's no one to fill the void of repair work. He suggests Lynn track down the subcontractors who did the work before the year anniversary of her closing. That date arrives in three weeks.
Lynn: “There goes the driveway with my car in it.”
The warrant company confirms to Mike McKnight that driveways aren't covered. However, a spokesperson recommends Ms. Reese file a claim to see what happens.
Her insurance gave her a similar answer.
The bankruptcy trustee tells Fact Finders she can file a claim in bankruptcy court but she'll be a long way down the list of unsecured creditors.
Here is the full response to Fact Finders from Hearthstone’s trustee, C. Randel Lewis, principal & managing director of Western Receiver, Trustee and Consulting Services Ltd.
On March 21, 2012, I was appointed as chapter 11 Trustee. At of that time, the debtor ceased all operations and has no employees. I am in the process of liquidating substantially all of the debtor’s assets.
While I regret to hear the issues that certain homeowners are experiencing with their homes, neither the Hearthstone estate nor I am in a position to fulfill any of the debtor’s warranty obligations. As I explained to you yesterday, the debtor has no employees, operations or assets with which it can respond to warranty claims.
The unfortunate reality is that the entity most homeowners seek recourse from for warranty work has filed for bankruptcy and is no longer a viable homebuilding company that could perform such repair work.
Moreover, and more importantly, as a result of the debtor’s bankruptcy filing, the homeowner’s sole remedy for warranty obligations against the debtor is to file a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court, where they can assert a monetary claim for the warranty obligations.
Unfortunately, the court-established deadline for filing proofs of claim was June 19, 2012; notice of this claim bar date was sent to all persons who purchased a home from Hearthstone within ten years of the bankruptcy filing.
All that said, people who bought homes with the past year may have claims against the subcontractors whose work has now proven to be substandard or defective.
Again, while I sympathize with the plight of these homeowners’ situations, I am unable to remedy the warranty defects complained of by such homeowners.